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ness; an easy and surprising transition that is truly magical. Pope had not so enchanting a subject in The House of Fame; yet, with deference to Warton, that critic has done Pope injustice in assimilating his imitations of Chaucer to the modern ornaments in Westminster Abbey, which impair the solemn effect of the ancient building. The many absurd and fantastic particulars in Chaucer's House of Fame will not suffer us to compare it, as a structure in poetry, with so noble a pile as Westminster Abbey in architecture. Much of Chaucer's fantastic matter has been judiciously omitted by Pope, who at the same time has clothed the best ideas of the old poem in spirited numbers and expression. Chaucer supposes himself to be snatched up to heaven by a large eagle, who addresses him in the name of St. James and the Virgin Mary, and, in order to quiet the poet's fears of being carried up to Jupiter, like another Ganymede, or turned into a star like Orion, tells him, that Jove wishes him to sing of other subjects than love and "blind Cupido," and has therefore ordered, that Dan Chaucer should be brought to behold the House of Fame. In Pope, the philosophy of fame comes with much more propriety from the poet himself, than from the beak of a talkative eagle.

It was not until his green old age that Chaucer put forth, in the Canterbury Tales, the full variety of his genius, and the pathos and romance, as well as the playfulness of fiction. In the serious part of those tales he is, in general, more deeply indebted to preceding materials, than in the comic stories, which he raised upon slight hints to the air and spirit of originals. The design of the whole work is after Boccaccio's Decamerone; but exceedingly improved. The Italian novelist's ladies and gentlemen who have retired from the city of Florence, on account of the plague, and who agree to pass their time in telling stories, have neither interest nor variety in their individual characters; the time assigned to their congress is arbitrary, and it evidently breaks up because the author's stores are exhausted. Chaucer's design, on the other hand, though it is left unfinished, has definite boundaries, and incidents to keep alive our curiosity, independent of the tales themselves. At the same time, while the action of the poem is an event too simple to divert the attention altogether from the pilgrims' stories, the pilgrimage itself is an occasion sufficiently important to draw together almost all the varieties of existing society, from the knight to the artisan, who, agreeably to the old simple manners, assemble in the same room of the hostellerie. The enumeration of those characters in the Prologue forms a scene, full, without confusion; and the object of their journey gives a fortuitous air

to the grouping of individuals, who collectively represent the age and state of society in which they live. It may be added, that if any age or state of society be more favourable than another to the uses of the poet, that in which Chaucer lived must have been peculiarly picturesque ;—— an age in which the differences of rank and profession were so strongly distinguished, and in which the broken masses of society gave out their deepest shadows and strongest colouring by the morning light of civilisation. An unobtrusive but sufficient contrast is supported between the characters, as between the demure prioress and the genial wife of Bath, the rude and boisterous miller and the polished knight, &c. &c. Although the object of the journey is religious, it casts no gloom over the meeting; and we know that our Catholic ancestors are justly represented in a state of high good-humour, on the road to such solemnities.

The sociality of the pilgrims is, on the whole, agreeably sustained; but in a journey of thirty persons, it would not have been adhering to probability to have made the harmony quite uninterrupted. Accordingly the bad-humour which breaks out between the lean friar and the cherubfaced sompnour, while it accords with the hostility known to have subsisted between those two professions, gives a diverting zest to the satirical stories which the hypocrite and the libertine level at each other.

Chaucer's forte is description; much of his moral reflection is superfluous; none of his characteristic painting. His men and women are not mere ladies and gentlemen, like those who furnish apologies for Boccaccio's stories. They rise before us minutely traced, profusely varied, and strongly discriminated. Their features and casual manners seem to have an amusing congruity with their moral characters. He notices minute circumstances as if by chance; but every touch has its effect to our conception so distinctly, that we seem to live and travel with his personages throughout the journey.

What an intimate scene of English life in the fourteenth century do we enjoy in those tales, beyond what history displays by glimpses, through the stormy atmosphere of her scenes, or the antiquary can discover by the cold light of his researches! Our ancestors are restored to us, not as phantoms from the field of battle, or the scaffold, but in the full enjoyment of their social existence. After four hundred years have closed over the mirthful features which formed the living originals of the poet's descriptions, his pages impress the fancy with the momentary credence that they are still alive; as if Time had rebuilt his ruins, and were reacting the lost scenes of existence.

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THE PROLOGUE TO THE CANTERBURY TALES.

WHANNE' that April with his shourès sote

The droughte of March hath perced to the rote",
And bathed every veine in swiches licour,
Of whiche vertùe engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eke with his sotè brethe
Enspired hath in every holt and hethe
The tendre croppès, and the yongè sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfè cours yronne",
And smalè foulès maken melodie,
That slepen allè night with open eye,
So priketh heme nature in hirf corages ;
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strangè strondes,
To servèh halweysi couthej in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shirès ende

Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wendek,
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were sekel.

Befelle, that, in that seson on a day, In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay, Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage To Canterbury with devoute coràge, At night was come into that hostelrie Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie Of sondry folk, by aventure yfallem In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle, That toward Canterbury wolden" ride. The chambres and the stables weren wide, And wel we weren esed attè beste.

And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich ono,
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.

But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this talè pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to resòn,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne:
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.

A KNIGHT ther was, and that a worthy man
That fro the timè that he firste began
To riden out, he loved Chevalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordès werre?,
And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre",
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.

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At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne. Ful often time he hadde the bord' begonnes Aboven allè nations in Pruce.

q Farther.

In Lettowe hadde he reysed' and in Ruce, No cristen man so ofte of his degre.

In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyès was he, and at Satalie,

Whan they were wonne; and in the Gretè see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissène
In listès thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilke worthy knight hadde ben alsò
Sometimè with the Lord of Palatie,
Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris".
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.

But for to tellen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipòn",

e Them. i Holidays. n Would.

Alle besmotredw with his habergeon*,
For he was late ycome fro his viàge,
And wentè for to don his pilgrimage.

With him ther was his sone a yongè Squier,
A lover and a lusty bacheler,

With lockès crully as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
And wonderly deliver, and grete of strengthe.
And he hadde be somtime in chevachiea,
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his ladies grace.

Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Alle ful of fresshè flourès, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floytinge alle the day,
He was as fresshe as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with slevès long and wide.
Well coude he sitte on hors, and fayrè ride.
He coudè songès make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and write.
So hote he loved, that by nightertaled

He slep no more than doth the nightingale.

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Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable, And carfe before his fader at the table.

A Yeman hadde he, and servantes no mo At that time, for him lustef to ride so; And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene. A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene Under his belt he bare ful thriftily. Well coude he dresse his takels yemanly: His arwesh drouped not with fetheres low. And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.

A not-hedi hadde he, with a broune visage. Of wood-craft coude he wel alle the usage. Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracèrk, And by his side a swerd and a bokeler, And on that other side a gaie daggère, Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere: A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene. An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene, A forster was he sothely as I gesse.

Ther was alsò a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was full simple and coy;
Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy ;
And she was cleped' Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sangè the service devine,
Entuned in hire nose ful swetely;

And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly",
After the scole of Stratford attè Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At mete was she wel ytaughte withalle;
She lette no morsel from her lippès fall,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire saucè depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
Thatte no drope ne fell upon hire brest.

In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest".

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It was almost a spannè brode I trowe;
For hardily she was not undergrowew.

Ful fetise was hire cloke, as I was ware.
Of smale coràll aboute hire arm she bare
A pair of bedès, gauded all with grene;
And theron heng a broche of gold ful shene,
On whiche was first ywritten a crouned A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.
Another Nonne also with hire hadde she,
That was hire chapelleine, and Preestès thre.
A Monk ther was, a fayre for the maistrie,
An outrider, that loved venerie;
A manly man, to ben an abbot able.

Ful many a deintè hors hadde he in stable :
And whan he rode, men might his bridel here
Gingeling in a whistling wind as clere,
And eke as loude, as doth the chapell belle,
Ther as this lord was keeper of the celle.

The reule of Seint Maure and of Seint Beneit,
Because that it was olde and somdele streit,
This ilkè monk lette oldè thingès pace,
And held after the newè worlde the trace.
He yave not of the text a pulled hen,
That saith, that hunters ben not holy men;
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkěles",
Is like to a fish that is waterles;

This is to say, a monk out of his cloistre.
This ilke text held he not worth an oistre.
And I say his opinion was good.

What shulde he studie, and make himselven woodb
Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore,

Or swinken with his hondès, and laboure,

As Austin bit? how shal the world be served?
Let Austin have his swink to him reserved.
Therfore he was a prickasoure a right:
Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of flight:
Of pricking and of hunting for the hate
Was all his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.

I saw his sleves purfiled' at the hond With griss, and that the finest of the lond. And for to fasten his hood under his chinne, He hadde of gold ywrought a curious pinne; A love-knotte in the greter end ther was. His hed was balled, and shone as any glas, And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint. He was a lord ful fat and in good point. His eyen stepeh, and rolling in his hed, That stemed as a fornëis of led. His botès souple, his hors in gret estat ; Now certainly he was a fayre prelat. He was not pale as a forpined gost. A fat swan loved he best of any rost. His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.

A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery, A Limitour, a ful solempnè man.

In all the ordres foure is none that can'

w Of low stature.

X Neat. z Gave. a Mr. Tyrwhitt supposes, that this should be righelles, i. e. out of the rules by which the monks were bound. b Mad. e Hard rider. A fine kind of fur. i Knew.

c Toil. d Biddeth. f Wrought on the edge.

h Deep in the head.

y Hunting.

8

So muche of daliance and fayre langage.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariàge
Of yongè wimmen, at his owen cost.
Until his ordre he was a noble post.
Ful wel beloved, and familier was he
With frankeleins over all in his contrèe,
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun:
For he had power of confession,

As saide himselfè, more than a curàt,
For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penànce,
Ther as he wiste to han3 a good pitànce:
For unto a pourek ordre for to give
Is signè that a man is wel yshrive'.
For if he gave, he dorstèm make avant,
He wistè that a man was repentant.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe although him sorè smerte.
Therfòre in stede of weping and praières,
Men mote give silver to the pourè freres.

His tippet was ay farsed" ful of knives,
And pinnès, for to given fayrè wives.
And certainly he hadde a mery note.
Wel coude he singe and plaien on a roteo.
Of yeddinges he bare utterly the pris.
His nekke was whitè as the flour de lis.
Therto he strong was as a champioun,
And knew wel the tavèrnes in every toun,
And every hosteler and gay tapstère,
Better than a lazar or a beggère,
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his facultè,
To haven with sike lazars acquaintance.
It is not honest, it may not avànce,
As for to delen with no swiche pouràiller,
But all with riche, and sellers of vitaille.

And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
Curteis he was, and lowly of servise.

Ther n' as no man no wher so vertuous.
He was the beste beggèr in all his hous:
And gave a certain fermès for the grant,
Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.
For though a widewe haddè but a shoo,
(So plesant was his in principio)
Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went.
His pourchas' was wel better than his rent.
And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp,
In lovèdayes", ther coude he mochel help.
For ther was he nat like a cloisterere,
With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere,
But he was like a maister or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semicope,
That round was as a belle out of the presse.
Somwhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,

j Have.

To make his English swete upon his tonge;
And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe,
His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,

As don the sterrès in a frosty night.
This worthy limitour was cleped Hubèrd.

A Marchant was ther with a forked berd,
In mottelee, and highe on hors he sat,
And on his hed a Flaundrish bever hat.
His botes clapsed fayre and fetisly.
His resons spake he ful solempnèly,
Souning alway the encrese of his winning.
He wold the see were kept for any thingw
Betwixen Middelburgh and Orèwell.
Wel coud he in eschanges sheldès selle.
This worthy man ful wel his wit besette;
Ther wistè no wight that he was in dette,
So stedefastly didde he his governance,
With his bargeines, and with his chevisance
Forsothe he was a worthy man withalle,
But soth to sayn, I n'ot how men him calle.
A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde alsò,
That unto logike haddè long ygo.
As lenè was his hors as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake;
But loked holwea, and therto soberly.
Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy",
For he hadde geten him yet no benefice,
Ne was nought worldly to have an officè.
For him was lever han at his beddes hed
A twenty bokes, clothed in black and red,
Of Aristotle, and his philosophie,
Than robès riche, or fidel, or sautrie.
But all be that he was a philosophre,
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre,
But all that he might of his frendès hented,
On bokès and on lerning he it spente,
And besily gan for the soulès praie

Of hem, that yave him wherwith to scolaies.
Of studie toke he mostè cure and hede.
Not a word spake he morè than was nede;
And that was said in forme and reverence,
And short and quike, and ful of high sentence.
Souning in moral vertue was his speche,
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

A Sergeant of the Lawe ware and wise,
That often hadde yben at the paruiss,
Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
Discrete he was, and of gret reverence:
He semed swiche, his wordès were so wise,
Justice he was ful often in assise,
By patent, and by pleine commissioun ;
For his science, and for his high renoun,

k Poor.
1 Shriven.
m Durst make a boast.

n Stuffed.

p Story-telling.

• A stringed instrument. 9 Have. r Poor people. s Farm. t Purchase. "Days appointed for the amicable settlement of differences. Half cloak.

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Of fees and robès had he many on.
So grete a pourchasour was nowher non.
All was fee simple to him in effect,
His pourchasing might not ben in suspect.
Nowher so besy a man as he ther n'as,
And yet he semed besier than he was.
In termès hadde he cas1 and domès alle,
That fro the time of king Will. weren falle.
Therto he coude endite, and make a thing,
Ther coudè no wight pinches et his writing.
And every statute coude he plaine by rote.
He rode but homely in a medleek cote',
Girt with a seint of silk, with barrès1 smale ;
Of his array tell I no lenger tale.

A Frankělein was in this compagnie ;
White was his berd, as is the dayësie.
Of his complexion he was sangùin.
Wel loved he by the morwep a sop ie wina.
To liven in delit was ever his wone,
For he was Epicurès owen sone,
That held opinion, that plein delit
Was veraily felicitè parfitè.

An housholder, and that a grete was he ;
Seint Julian' he was in his contrée.
His brede, his ale, was alway after on;
A better envyned' man was no wher non.
Withouten bake mete never was his hous,
Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous,
It snewed in his hous of mete and drinke,
Of alle deintees that men coud of thinke,
After the sondry sesons of the yere,
So changed he his mete and his soupère.
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe",
And many a breme, and many a luce in stewe.
Wo was his coke, but if his saucè were
Poinant and sharpe, and redy all his
His table dormant in his halle alwày
Stode redy covered alle the longè day.

gere.

At sessions ther was he lord and sire.
Ful often time he was knight of the shire.
An anelace and a gipcieres all of silk,
Hen at his girdel, white as morwèy milk.
A shereve hadde he ben, and a countoùr".
Was no wher swiche a worthy vavasour".

An Haberdasher, and a Carpenter,
A Webbe, a Deyer, and a Tapiser",
Were alle yclothed in o liverè,
Of a solempne and grete fraternitè.

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Ful freshe and newe hire gere ypikidi
Hir knives were ychaped not with bra
But all with silver wrought ful clene =
Hir girdeles and hir pouches every de
Wel semed eche of hem a fayre burge
To sitten in a gild halle, on the deis'.
Everich, for the wisdom that he can,
Was shapelich for to ben an alderma■
For catel hadden they ynough and ren
And eke hir wivès would it well assen
And ellès certainly they were to blam
It is ful fayre to ben ycleped madàme-
And for to gon to vigiles all before,
And have a mantel reallich1 yborem.

A Coke they hadden with hem for t To boile the chikenes and the marie b And poudre marchant, tart and galin Wel coulde he knowe a draught of Lo He couldè roste, and sethe, and broile Maken mortrewès, and wel bake a pie But gret harm was it, as it thoughtè m That on his shinne a mormal" hadde h For blanc manger that made he with t

A Shipman was ther, woneds fer by For ought I wote, he was of Dertèmou He rode upon a rounciet, as he couthe, All in a goune of falding to the knee. A dagger hanging by a las" hadde hee About his nekke under his arm adoun. The hote sommer hadde made his hewe And certainly he was a good felaw. Ful many a draught of win he haddè di From Burdeux ward, while that the chapr Of nice conscience toke he no kepe. If that he faught, and hadde the higher By water he sent hem home to every la But of his craft to reken well his tides, His stremès and his strandès him besidHis herberwe, his mone", and his lode Ther was none swiche, from Hull unto Hardy he was, and wise, I undertake : With many a tempest hadde his berd be He knew wel alle the havens, as they w Fro Gotland, to the Cape de finistere, And every creke in Bretagne and in SpHis barge ycleped was the Magdelaine.

With us ther was a Doctour of PhisilIn all this world ne was ther non him li. To speke of phisike, and of surgerie : For he was grounded in astronomie. He kept his patient a ful gret del In hourès by his magike naturel.

ef Their gear was spruce. g Every h Burgher. i The deis; a part of the hall that was fle set apart for a place of respect.-Tyrwhitt. j Fit. k Else. 1 Royally. m Sup n For the purpose. • The meaning not asc p Sweet cyperus. 9 A dish of rich broth, in which the meat was and the substance strained.

ΓΑΣ
u L

s Lived.
Hack-horse.
Place of the Sun.

w Moon

x Pilotship.

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